Seven winning moves for small-stakes MTTs

Add these seven winning moves to your small-stakes MTT arsenal and turn yourself from an also-ran to a chip monster!

In the fast-paced world of multi-table tournaments you can’t rely on getting dealt Aces and Kings every other hand. Instead, you’ll need some tricky manoeuvres, nerves of steel and perfect timing to see you through to the money. While none of these moves are guaranteed winners, by adding these tournament techniques to your multi-table arsenal you should see yourself going deep time and time again.

1: Squeeze play

Why do you raise in late position with marginal hands? To steal the blinds. So what do you do when there are callers behind a single raiser? Raise, of course. Put in a big bet so you’re not giving any value to call. If you get past the initial raiser you’ll usually get past everyone else. If they had a premium hand they would have probably re-raised so punish their weakness! Usually you need to make a pot-sized bet to scare others off. If the blinds are 100/200 and there’s a raise to 600 and one caller. Make it 2,000 to go and
watch their hands hit the muck.

HANDS: Any
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Any
YOUR STACK: Medium to large

2: Pre-imperilled shove

Tournament players have become so accustomed to the short-stack shove [see 6] that they are far more likely to call with a weak Ace or a high cards than ever before, which is great if you have a genuine hand. The only problem is that once your stack is running low you can’t guarantee picking up a marginal hand let alone a premium one. Therefore, an all-in move with a stack of more than 10 big blinds will be a lot more respected than a standard short-stack shove. Although your risk-to-reward ratio is higher you will be more likely to get your hands through. This move is important to throw in if the blinds are about to jump up a level because it will effectively cut your stack, and chance of making other players fold, in half. Picking up the blinds, or doubling through, will keep you in the race at the higher blind levels.

HANDS: A-K to A-10, K-Q, K-J, Q-Js, 10-10 to 7-7
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Middle to late (when the blinds are about to change)
YOUR STACK: Low to medium

3: Short-stack shove

Tournaments are all about survival, but there’s no bigger sin than blinding yourself to death. So when your total stack is down to around seven to 10 big blinds it’s time to take a deep breath and stick your chips in the middle. And it’s even more important to look for the right spots to do this. Always make sure you’re the first into the pot (unless you have a monster) so that it puts the decision onto the other players at the table and they have no chips already invested. If the action is folded around to you be prepared to push with any Ace, any pair or suited connectors, where you think you’ll have live cards if someone calls. The closer you are to the button the looser you can be with your hand, purely on the basis that there are fewer players to get past. Likewise, if the players in the blinds are sitting on medium-sized stacks you should be pushing with any two cards. They’ll be loathe to risk half to threequarters of their stack with anything but a big hand. And even if they call, 7-9o will beat A-K suited a third of the time.

HANDS: A-x, suited connectors, any pairs
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Middle to late
YOUR STACK: Low

4: Stop-and-go

The stop-and-go is an old fashioned, but still great move to make when you’re in the blinds and starting to run low on chips and ideas. The tactic involves calling a late position raise – hopefully targeting a serial raiser – and whatever the flop comes you move all-in. You’re not making the preflop call on the odds it will help you (if it does it’s a bonus), but on the fact that two live cards will connect with the flop only a third of the time. Is it a gamble? Yes. Is it a gamble with the odds in your favour? Also, yes. You do, however, need to have enough chips left so that it’s not an automatic call for the raiser. It’s a great move to pull with a low pair if you think an all-in prefl op would get called because you’re forcing someone who probably hasn’t hit to a tricky decision if they want to see the fi nal two cards. If they’ve hit already then they would have hit by calling your all-in anyhow. But by pulling this move you’ve got an extra chance for survival.

HANDS: Any
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Middle to late
YOUR STACK: Small to medium

5: Push the flush

You’ve put in a healthy raise with two suited face cards and have got one caller, only for the flop to bring rags. But all is not lost – you’ve flopped a big flush draw. If you’re first to act and have your opponent heavily out-chipped, try checking the flop to incite your opponent to bet, which they’ll do more often than not whether they’ve hit or not. Now hit them hard with a check-raise, pushing your entire stack in. If you find yourself short-stacked or it’s the middle-to-late stages of a tournament then you’re usually best shoving your chips in as first to act on the flop when a pot-sized bet accounts for a third of your chips. If your opponent calls with an overpair to the flop (but which is lower than both your hole cards) you’re actually still a slight favourite to win. Combined with the fact that you’ll often make a player drop their hand this semi-bluff shove is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.

HANDS: A-Ks, A-Qs, A-Js, K-Qs, Q-Js
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Any
YOUR STACK: Medium to large

6: Fast-play monsters

At the start of low-stakes tournaments there are a lot of fish. These aquatic types will call huge bets down with top pair/top kicker because they’re blind to the fact that someone might bet two-pair or a set so hard. You’ll also get some terrible calls from players paying way over the odds for drawing hands, so make sure you punish them.

HANDS: A-A, K-K, sets, flushes and straights
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Early
YOUR STACK: Any

7: Pay to hit a set

In the early stages of most multi-table tournaments you have a lot of chips relative to the blinds, so losing a few of them early doors isn’t going to do much damage to your tournament chances long-term. In that case, paying over the odds with small or medium pairs in the hope of hitting a set is an absolute must. You’re about 8/1 to hit trips on the flop, but when you do hit, you’ll be in a great position to win a big chunk of chips from someone with an overpair. Your implied odds at this stage of the game are so big that it can be worth investing as much as 5-10% of your stack to try and hit a set. Pay over the odds, especially when you’re in position, as you might be able to take the pot by betting out on the flop even if you miss.

HANDS: 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9
TOURNAMENT CLOCK: Early
YOUR STACK: Average


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